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Caring for porcelain

Porcelain is a paradox. It’s both delicate and durable. How much you pamper your porcelain should depend on how long you want it to last.

If you think your Calamityware plates and mugs are works of art that deserve to endure for generations, you’ll want to protect them. But if you think plates and mugs are easy to replace, you can treat your Calamityware roughly and cherish the scuffs, scratches, and scrapes that will accumulate.

Here are some care guidelines that might help you.
1  Don’t drop it. No porcelain is immune from the forces of gravity. 
2  Avoid extreme temperatures. Don’t freeze porcelain. Keep it out of the oven and away from direct flame. Avoid really hot water. Avoid all fast temperature changes such as jumping from the refrigerator to the microwave. If your dishwasher has a porcelain setting or a moderate temperature setting, use that. Skip the HOT drying cycle.
3  Go easy. Use mild soaps and detergents. If you clean a plate promptly, all you need is a mild soap. Save the powerful detergents for the baked-on crud bonded to your cooking pots. High-strength detergents in your dishwasher are overkill for porcelain. Never use abrasive cleansers. Stay away from bleach. It’s corrosive and can damage the glaze.
4  Clean up fast. Remove food from the surface of your plates promptly after meals. Empty and rinse your porcelain mugs right away. Don’t let any foods stay in contact with your porcelain overnight, especially acidic ingredients or that triple-ballistic atomic hot sauce you like.
5  No rough stuff. Use a non-abrasive cleaning tool such as a soft-bristled brush or a dishcloth to wash porcelain. Never use a metal scourer. Don’t scrape porcelain plates with metal utensils. Use a rubber spatula. If you care about your porcelain plates and mugs, you’ll use a soft, plastic wash basin inside your sink. Wash one item at a time so they don’t bump together.
6  Rough neighborhood. If you’ve ever sat inside your dishwasher during a cleaning cycle, you know it can get rough in there. Plates, cups, glasses, and utensils end up bouncing together in an uninhibited orgy of hygiene. People who care about the future of their Calamityware load the dishwasher with care to leave plenty of space between all items and don’t put any glasses or utensils in the same load with their porcelain. Use the delicate or porcelain cycle if your dishwasher has that option. If your dishwasher can only do hot, harsh, and hammering, your porcelain will be better off with gentle hand washing. That way, you can avoid the unnecessary abuse of rapid temperature changes and corrosive detergents.
7  Cushioned existence. Museum curators, and people who really want their porcelain to last, stack plates with napkin spacers between them.
8  Gray and red. Gray marks on porcelain are caused by metal utensils leaving deposits of nickel on the surface. Rust marks come from dishwasher prongs that have worn to expose the metal. Both can usually be removed with Bar Keepers Friend or a paste of cream of tartar.

If you can’t tolerate any signs of wear, your best strategy is to lock your porcelain in a vault so your heirs can abuse it later.